Is there a way to use earthquake as a verb, i.e.:

It started earthquaking...

What's the proper way to express earthquake as a verb?

  • 2
    drop the 'earth' and bam! it's a verb. – Oldcat Jun 5 '14 at 17:54

Aside from tremble, you could also use quake, and say:

The earth started to quake...

quake: to shake or tremble, as from shock or instability: The earth quaked

  • The earth can "quake" for reasons other than an earthquake. – Kris Jun 8 '14 at 10:54
  • @Kris For what other reasons? – Araucaria - Not here any more. Jun 8 '14 at 11:36
  • 1
    @Araucaria For instance, a big explosion could cause the earth to quake/tremble/shake. (I personally think one will want to carefully consider the choice of words if describing a non-earthquake quaking of the earth, though.) – Håkan Lindqvist Jun 8 '14 at 12:33

You suggest you say:

everything started to tremble, shake, move, ( because of the earthquake) or,

the earthquake (seism or temblor) stared and shook everything.


Earthquake is a noun, not a verb. It has not been 'verbed' in general English writing.

No, you cannot say "It started earthquaking … "

One way to say it could be:

"There started an earthquake."

If you know the intensity, you could say:

The earth started to tremble
The earth started to shake violently

  • Regarding the idea of 'verbing' the noun "earthquake", wouldn't doing so be almost entirely redundant considering that "earthquake" is derived from a 'nouned' verb? I like @Elian's answer as it just breaks "earthquake" up in its components, changing very little, but does it come across as unnatural in any way? – Håkan Lindqvist Jun 7 '14 at 17:10
  • @Kris Your first example seems very ungrammatical to me or at least incredibly awkward. I stuck it in a search engine as "there started an earthquake" and only one hit came up - and that one was your example here on ELU. – Araucaria - Not here any more. Jun 8 '14 at 11:40
  • @Araucaria google.com/… – Kris Jun 8 '14 at 11:42
  • @HåkanLindqvist See my comment at Elian's answer. – Kris Jun 8 '14 at 11:43
  • @Kris Point taken -ish. I think the reason it comes across as awkward here is that this construction requires a long NP to warrant postposing the subject. Compare. At lunch there started a fight. Later I asked.. with After lunch there started a fight which would irrevocably change the nature of their relationship forever – Araucaria - Not here any more. Jun 8 '14 at 12:27

This can also be said about a stomach if you're hungry. Just heard it in the animated movie "Soul". It says, "Your stomach is earthquaking".

  • 1
    I suspect that the movie might be the only usage of earthquake in that context. – KillingTime Apr 19 at 20:04

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